The Miami Dolphins dominated the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football 20-3, solidifying their 7th win in a row and catapulting them into the 7th seed of the AFC Playoff picture. Many people who read my articles over the last few weeks thought it would be impossible to come back from 1-7, they said this winning streak was merely a feel-good story before getting humbled again. The Miami Dolphins made history last night becoming the first team in NFL History to have a 7 game losing streak, and a 7 game winning streak in the same season.
Not too long ago this team could barely compete with the abysmal Jacksonville Jaguars, fast forward to December and Miami has a chance at breaking two other untouched records. Because if the Dolphins win out they become the first team in NFL History to make the playoffs after a 1-7 start, and also become the first team ever to finish with a winning record after such a start. Miami controls their own destiny, and it will be entirely up to them to finish the job.
However before getting too ahead of ourselves we need to first go through what happened last night, although the Dolphins dominated the Saints in the scoreboard this domination was the result of Miami’s defense playing lights out yet again. They didn’t face much of a threat with a Saints offense that had Rookie QB Ian Book making his NFL debut, but their running game is still strong. The Saints running game never caught rhythm and when forced to pass Miami blitzed Ian Book’s soul out of his body. Book was 12/20 passing for 135 yards, 2 picks, and a passer rating of 40.6 #Haveaday.
But to be quite frank it’s important to make sure inferior competition looks inferior, kicking your opponent while their roster is decimated is super necessary. Can’t even let them have a sliver of hope, you don’t want to know the Pandora’s box that can be opened if that happens. And if you do then just ask Justin Herbert and the L.A Chargers.
Miami keeps showing that they have a premier defense in the NFL, but are the offensive struggles from last night a concern moving forward?
Rich defense, just getting by offense:
The Dolphins offense let it be known early that they would be playing conservative football by keeping throws short, running the ball, and wasting clock. Their effort showed one of a team that just wanted to score more points than the other team, not one of a team that was looking to make a statement.
We saw a lot of teams go for it on 4th & short this weekend, not even to mention 4th & 1 that was pretty much an automatic go for it attempt for other teams. Flores was having none of that as anytime that they came to even 4th & inches the Dolphins punted. The strategy going in was keeping the offense mistake free, and leave it up to the defense to make plays and hold it down.
A strategy that is not what a fan wants to see on TV during primetime but a gameplan that I can understand given that this Saints defense shut down Tom Brady in Tampa after the Bucs relied too much on offense, their struggles on that side of the ball frustrated them to a point where they couldn’t put anything together. Not even a field goal.
Tua Tagovailoa vs the Saints:
19/26 (73%) – 198 Yds – 1 TD – 1 INT – 91.5 Passer rating.
Flores knows he has a championship caliber defense and all that is needed is minimum mistakes on offense, just enough production on that side of the ball to be able to score more points than the other team. but nothing everything goes according to plan, because Sean Payton had a very similar strategy for his football team.
The Dolphins offense struggled to catch a rhythm for most of that game, and up until the 3rd quarter the only touchdown scored was a pick 6 by Nik Needham. The Saints were determined to stop Miami’s run game and clog short passing lanes for Tua. In games like these you need your play makers to make plays, something has to pop to give your team life.
One of my biggest critique’s of QB Tua Tagovailoa’s game going into 2021 was not making big plays, or attempting to be a playmaker to give his team some pop. Tua has done a great job at pulling off big time throws more consistently. And last night when the offense couldn’t get in rhythm he pulled off this dime on 3rd & 9.
Playmakers make plays, even with a bad o-line, questionable play calling, and musical chairs of a WR room. Many people told me I was asking for the impossible but here you can see that it indeed can be done, the problem now is that for him to pull off big plays consistently he will have to have better protection. A 40 yard dot when having less than 2 seconds to throw can’t be done consistently, but an elite talent will prove they can make something happen even in bad situations.
At first one of my biggest critiques of Tua, and now has turned into a growing part of his game that I’m looking forward to keep watching as his career progresses.
Tua many mistakes:
Although I’m happy with Tagovailoa’s recent growth there are still some things he needs heavy work on, for one ball security has to be a must. Last night Tua fumbled inside the 30 when the Dolphins were in position to get points and that can never happen, sure you can see he’s going into a throwing motion but he’s doing that as he’s about to get tackled with no teammates nearby.
No-mans land. Bad decision. Worst result.
Tua has now become very consistent at having 1 absolutely horrible play per game, the INT throw was a horrendous decision and even worse throw. He cleaned up this mistake for a couple games but now makes it 2 games in a row with that “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” play.
It’s not the end of the world, but can become a serious issue if he doesn’t clean it up and it ends up costing the Dolphins a win in the future. Miami won so there’s no major repercussions, but teams don’t get off that lucky making those mistakes against a playoff team. And the Tenessee Titans this upcoming Sunday are exactly that.
Hollywood cameras for a lights-out defense:
Ian Book was in a real life nightmare during his NFL debut, the Dolphins had no mercy as they sacked the inexperienced rookie 8 times and intercepted him twice, one of the interceptions was brought back for a touchdown by Nik Needham. Brandon Jones also had himself a pick, the Dolphins ran various different looks off the blitz to make sure Ian Book never had a chance of catching up to what is being used against him.
Emmanuel Ogbah gave out the most punishment to the QB with 2 sacks but Christian Wilkins, Brandon Jones, Jerome Baker, Zach Sieler, Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland, and Raekwon Davis all were involved in sacking Book and bringing the pain with free shipping and expedited delivery.
There isn’t much more to say about the defense besides complete dominance, but I’m willing to push the boundary and say this 2021 Dolphins defense is just as good if not better than the 2020 defense. If Miami obliterates Tannehill’s defense this upcoming Sunday then I think we will be seeing a newfound prime of the already fierce and dangerous Miami defense.
Until then I won’t focus too much on this previous games defensive statistics since we were going against an opponent that clearly could not compete offensively, next week is the real test.
A date with the ex, have to make sure Tannehill isn’t doing better than us after the breakup.